The Hamptons become the place for polo once again this Saturday, when the Bridgehampton Polo Club opens its 18th season.
"Every summer, all of the top polo players from around the globe are really out and headquartered in Bridgehampton," said Lindsay Hays, spokesperson for the Bridgehampton Polo Club. "It's going to be the highest quality polo you are going to see in the U.S."
This Saturday's opening match is between the professional polo teams KIG and White Birch. New to the sport? Widely considered the oldest team sport in the world with origins dating back to the Middle Ages, Polo is like croquet on horseback. It features two teams of four competing to hit a ball through a goal post with a wooden mallet while riding horseback across a field bigger than a football field.
"They're covering a lot of ground, and it's really fast-paced," said Hays. "You have these gorgeous polo ponies, they're very athletic. It's high speed, it's high action, it's exciting."
Spectators can be part of the action, too. At halftime, they're invited onto the field for a tradition known as "divot stomping" to help even out the divots on the field caused by the horses' hooves.
"The divot stomp is a tradition of polo," said Hays. "All guests have the opportunity to come out onto the field to mingle and say hello, and you really feel that you are a part of the day and a part of the game."
The Bridgehampton Polo Club season runs July 19 to Aug. 23, with matches on Saturdays at 4 p.m. (gates open at 3 p.m.) at Two Trees Farm, 849 Hayground Rd., in Water Mill. General admission is $30 per car, with proceeds benefitting the Bridgehampton Childcare and Recreational Center. For more info, call 631-278-9199 or visit bridgehamptonpolollc.com.